Tales of Adventure by Crane Stephen


Tales of Adventure by Crane Stephen

Author:Crane, Stephen
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: (Privatkopie)
Published: 2010-02-03T05:00:00+00:00


III

At night the Foundling approached the coast like a thief. Her lights were muffled so that from the deck the sea shone with its own radiance, like the faint shimmer of some kinds of silk. The men on deck spoke in whispers, and even down in the fire-room the hidden stokers working before the blood-red furnace doors used no words and walked tip-toe. The stars were out in the blue-velvet sky, and their light with the soft shine of the sea caused the coast to appear black as the side of a coffin. The surf boomed in low thunder on the distant beach.

The Foundling's engines ceased their thumping for a time. She glided quietly forward until a bell chimed faintly in the engine-room. Then she paused with a flourish of phosphorescent waters.

»Give the signal,« said the captain. Three times a flash of light went from the bow. There was a moment of waiting. Then an eye like the one on the coast of Florida opened and closed, opened and closed, opened and closed. The Cubans, grouped in a great shadow on deck, burst into a low chatter of delight. A hiss from their leader silenced them.

»Well?« said the captain.

»All right,« said the leader.

At the giving of the word it was not apparent that anyone on board of the Foundling had ever been seasick. The boats were lowered swiftly, too swiftly. Boxes of cartridges were dragged from the hold and passed over the side with a rapidity that made men in the boats exclaim against it. They were being bombarded. When a boat headed for shore its rowers pulled like madmen. The captain paced slowly to and fro on the bridge. In the engine-room the engineers stood at their station, and in the stoke-hole the firemen fidgeted silently around the furnace doors.

On the bridge Flanagan reflected. »Oh, I don't know,« he observed, »this filibustering business isn't so bad. Pretty soon I'll be off to sea again with nothing to do but some big lying when I get into port.«

In one of the boats returning from shore came twelve Cuban officers, the greater number of them convalescing from wounds, while two or three of them had been ordered to America on commissions from the insurgents. The captain welcomed them, and assured them of a speedy and safe voyage.

Presently he went again to the bridge and scanned the horizon. The sea was lonely like the spaces amid the suns. The captain grinned and softly smote his chest. »It's dead easy,« said he.

It was near the end of the cargo, and the men were breathing like spent horses, although their elation grew with each moment, when suddenly a voice spoke from the sky. It was not a loud voice, but the quality of it brought every man on deck to full stop and motionless, as if they had all been changed to wax. »Captain,« said the man at the masthead, »there's a light to the west'ard, sir. Think it's a steamer, sir.«

There was a still moment until the captain called: »Well, keep your eye on it now.



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